Monday, October 17, 2011

#76 - Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

We were looking through some of our Bon Appetit and Food and Wine magazines, looking for new things to cook, and this one recipe stood out as something completely unique. It was a pasta that wasn't a red sauce, wasn't a cream sauce, wasn't a pesto, and wasn't baked. It was all of the above. Oh, and it had peppers and eggplant. We had to try it out.

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

From Bon Appetit Wanna see how crazy this pasta is? Just look at all of the ingredients: So to start off, this pasta has some roasted vegetables. So we have to cut and roast the peppers, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes. It also has this pesto-like crumble topping that's made of basil and pine nuts. And the sauce is a little weird because you don't cook it before baking. You just blend the tomatoes, cream and some basil in a food processor, and set aside until it's time to layer everything. Wow. Who would have thought that all of these things would work well together? Who thought of putting them together? Who cares? It's wonderful.

It's got the rich and creamy taste of a pink sauce, the warm flavors of roasted peppers and eggplant, the gooeyness of mozzarella, and then this weird pesto-like crunch on top that's extra delicious. This is great, and we can't tell if it's because of or in spite of its craziness. Make all your pasta dishes at once with this one.
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 large garlic cloves, divided
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves, divided
  • 1 cup Parmigiano cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 1 lb whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  1. Preheat over to 425 and spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Add eggplants, pepper, and tomatoes to baking sheet.
  3. With a garlic press, squeeze 1 garlic clove onto vegetables.
  4. Drizzle vegetables with the olive oil and toss.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast vegetables until tender, stirring often, for 35-45 minutes.
  7. In a food processor, combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup Parmigiano, pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove.
  8. Blend until crumbled and season topping with salt. Set aside.
  9. Blend tomatoes with juice, cream, 1 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in food processor until smooth.
  10. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  11. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water until just tender but still firm to bite.
  12. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  13. Toss with vegetables, sauce, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano.
  14. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
  15. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and pine nut topping.
  16. Bake pasta at 425 until heated through, about 25 to 35 minutes.
  17. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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